Retailer steps up factory interviews to boost audits

22 June 2005
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23 June 2005 | Anusha Bradley

High-street clothing retailer H&M is to stiffen its corporate social responsibility (CSR) inspections among its suppliers.

The Swedish company is to increase supplier checks and improve training for its 40-strong supplier auditing team.

Under the plans, inspectors will conduct more interviews with workers and introduce extra measures to ensure documentation such as time sheets and wage records are correct.

Karolina Dubowicz, head of H&M's corporate social responsibility reporting, said the company hopes to improve supplier relations and factory working conditions.

"It is a way of monitoring suppliers' factories and getting a wider and deeper understanding of working conditions."

Dubowich added the company hoped to show their suppliers the benefits of an honest and open business approach.

She said they needed to see the value of improving working conditions in achieving increased productivity.

"Overtime is the most common issue. It not efficient to have someone working very long days because in the end it doesn't benefit the factory and business.

"We have around 40 people in our offices who work full-time with auditing and we are currently training them in this new way of working."

The retailer wants suppliers to make lasting improvements, Dubowicz said, but it could take time.

In 2004, it conducted 2,000 factory audits with 700 suppliers.

Over 60 per cent of H&M factories are in Asia, with the remainder in Europe.

SMjun2005

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